Garmin Virb Ultra 30 GPS

Review: the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 GPS action camera

Stefan 25. February 2017

Garmin fitted the Virb Ultra 30 with special features like voice control and G-Metrix data overlay. Practical additions or just bling?

Recently, Garmin launched a new action camera: the Virb Ultra 30 GPS. With its 4K resolution, 3-axle image stabilization, touchscreen, automatic recording of G-Metrix data and GPS. The Virb is an action camera ready to capture your best moments. Read on for a more detailed description of everything the new Virb can do.

What’s in the box?

The Virb comes in a small box which includes the camera itself, the waterproof case, a lithium ion battery, charger, hex key, anti-fog kit and various mounts. Check out the German unboxing video below for a visual.

Video

The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 GPS action cam

The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the camera, was its size. It is noticeably smaller than earlier versions, and is roughly the same size of a GoPro.

Size and weight

Size 57.5 x 45.9 x 31.3 mm; in waterproof case: 79.0 x 75.5 x 39.9 mm
Display 1.75“ / 44.5 mm (diagonal)
Weight 87.9 g with battery; 65.2 g without battery

Camera body: Exterior finish and button positions

The camera is made of high-quality materials and the positions of various buttons and ports were well thought out. The only problem I can find, is that the USB and HDMI ports are exposed with no cover. Dirt and other foreign objects could get stuck in there, but if the case is always used, this shouldn’t be a problem.

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The battery and memory card can both be found on the underside, protected by a cover.

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Battery life

When recording at 1080p resolution, Garmin says that the camera will run for roughly two hours. That is a realistic estimate, because after I took a 1.5 hour test ride there was still 20 % battery left.

Garmin offers spare batteries for 25 €, which could be very practical when on a longer tour. However, you can only charge one battery at a time, because they can only be charged while connected to the Virb.

Supported memory cards

The Virb can handle memory cards as small as 16 GB and as large as 128 GB. I used a SanDisk Extreme 64 GB card and was able to film at 1080p resolution for up to 4 hours. This is the equivalent of more than 15,000 pictures. Make sure you format the card before you use it.

Recording quality and resolution

The video and picture resolution of the Virb Ultra 30 is top quality, easily on the same level as a GoPro. The built-in image stabiliser ensures that everything stays in focus. Note that the stabiliser needs to be turned on in the settings. Aside from the image resolution, I was very pleased with the sound quality. Even in the case, the quality is unaltered. Of course, the camera can do more than film. It can also take pictures and the shutter button is on the upper right hand corner, like most traditional cameras. The 12 megapixels also ensure that the pictures you take are great.

Voice control

Garmin thought up a really neat feature with the Virb’s voice control. With commands like ‘Ok Garmin, take a picture / video’ you can control the camera hands free. If you are using the Virb as a helmet cam, this makes it a lot easier to start filming while riding. It does only understand English, but the commands are simple enough that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The app / G-Metrix data

Garmin offers a free Virb app for Andorid and iOS.

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With the app, you basically control the Virb from your phone or other app controlled devices. That means, start and stop recoding, take pictures while filming (videos up to 1080p/60fps) and make adjustments to the settings (eg. the resolution).

As a road cyclist, I was most interested in the data that the Virb can collect and later lay on the video of training or racing recordings. This way, I can see where my weaknesses are and make improvements. With G-Metrix data and the app, the Virb can measure / display the following:

  • Speed
  • Heart rate (with required accessories)
  • Watts (with required accessories)
  • Temperature
  • Cadence (with required accessories)
  • Grade
  • G-Forces
  • Air Time

Virb Edit Software

Made for Windows and iOS, the Virb Edit software allows you to cut and alter the video with G-Metrix data and sound files.

Livestreaming

Live streaming is also not a problem when connected to the app. You can stream real time video over YouTube and so that everyone can see.

The case

The included case protects the Garmin Virb not only from water, but also from impacts.

At first, I thought that the small opening for the speaker would cause some problems, if the camera was put in water. So I submerged it, and it came out working fine. Garmin says that it is waterproof for up to 40 m, but it was difficult to test this so I kept it submerged for two hours. After pulling it out, it worked just like before.

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While in the case, the Virb was still easy to use and the voice control and touchscreen functioned perfectly.

The switch on top of the case is great for filming quickly. Flip the switch forward and the camera starts recording. Backwards, and it stops. The switch is large and is easy to use even with gloves, and it is easy to know if the Virb is recording or not by the position of the switch.

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Connected devices

The Garmin Virb Ultra can overlay data like cadence, heart rate and watts directly in the video.

I connected the following devices using ANT+:

Data Product Product No.
Cadence SRM Powermeter 52606
Heart Rate Garmin Edge 1000 39583

It was easy to connect the devices and in the wireless settings the Virb searches for all compatible devices that are close by.

Summary

The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 is a well thought out product that checks all the boxes when it comes to action cameras. The image quality is comparable to a GoPro and with the voice control, video switch and G-Metrix data the Virb Ultra sets itself apart.